The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.
BOSTON- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced today, October 8, that her office has been awarded nearly $1.7 million in federal grants to build on the AG’s work to investigate and prosecute human trafficking and provide comprehensive, trauma-informed services to victims.
“This grant recognizes the importance of our ongoing work with law enforcement and victim service providers to combat human trafficking and ensure survivors have access to the support they need,” said Healey. “Since taking office, I have been committed to ending the exploitation of people in Massachusetts and this task force is another step toward achieving that goal.”
The AG’s Office won two grants from the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs, one for $799,744 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to create a collaborative task force to combat human trafficking and the second for $899,998 from the DOJ’s Office of Victims of Crime to support victims of human trafficking. Both awards are three-year grants that began on October 1, 2019.
This funding will be used to create the Commonwealth’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force, which will use a comprehensive strategy for combating both labor and sex trafficking through a statewide, multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach.
The task force will be co-led by the AG’s Human Trafficking Division, the Massachusetts State Police Unit assigned to the AG’s Human Trafficking Division, and the AG’s Victim Witness Services Division.
The co-leads will hire a Program Coordinator to be the dedicated point person for the task force. Law enforcement task force members also include the United States Attorney’s Office – District of Massachusetts, Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
“The true measure of our strength as a society is how we treat the most vulnerable in our community,” said Andrew E. Lelling, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “That is why the Department of Justice is committed to fighting human trafficking, a heinous crime that preys on the young and the defenseless. These grants will fund efforts across Massachusetts to bring traffickers to justice and support survivors.”
The AG’s Victim Witness Service Division will be the lead victim service provider on the task force and will coordinate with direct service providers across the state to ensure that the needs of adult and child victims of sex and labor trafficking are met.
The direct service providers on the task force are: My Life, My Choice; The Children’s Advocacy Center/Support to End Exploitation Now (SEEN); BU School of Law Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program; Sojourner House, THEIA Project; Garden of Hope; Education, Vision, Advocacy (EVA) Center; and Living in Freedom Together (LIFT).
“We are looking forward to working together with the AG’s Office and partners across our state to build a collaborative and comprehensive approach to ending commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking,” said CEO and Founder of LIFT Nicole Bell. “With this approach, we hope to ensure that victims receive the vital, trauma-informed care and support they need to exit and recover from the impacts of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.”
AG Healey has made combatting human trafficking a priority for her office and when she took office in 2015, created a dedicated Human Trafficking Division to focus on policy, prevention and prosecution.
The Division includes a team of specialized prosecutors, victim advocates and Massachusetts State Police troopers who handle high impact, multi-jurisdictional human trafficking investigations and prosecutions across the state.
Through the Human Trafficking Division, the AG’s Office has charged more than 60 individuals in connection with human trafficking and helped numerous survivors.